February 20, 2007 Subject:
There’s a hazy ambiance - a layer of static sizzle - that persists at varying levels of intensity on this almost 49-minute live set. Sometimes it reminds me of the sound of falling rain, other times the rush wind passing through a microphone or the sound of waves meeting the shoreline and even, for brief moments, just a bothersome tape hiss. Add to this misty stratum of noise are lightly processed recordings of minimal musical instrumentation - having both melodious and discordant qualities - all of which argue for an air of melancholy.
This live set is unique and memorable for several reasons. First, is its simple, but effective, approach to digital minimalism and impressionism. The ingredients here are uncomplicated - white noise, radio samples of acoustic instruments, maybe some field recordings, along with discreet editing. In the second place, opposites are juxtaposed in such a way that they complement each other - the harmonious and the dissonant - digital noise and acoustic melodies - pastoral calmness and urban edginess. All of these elements work together to create blurred impressions and moods in the mind of the listener. There’s also a thread of idyllic warmth present throughout that tempers the melancholic mood. Finally, there is a concrete motif that gives this lengthy set a sense of cohesiveness.
The pattern on this set consists of several scenes of sampled radio recordings of various acoustic instruments (cello, piano, guitar) with each scene preceded by a short segment of noisy static. These sampled recordings are run through various effects that somewhat blur their actual sound. I counted at least ten distinct scenes with most scenes having a duration between 3 - 4 minutes with the interludes of static noise lasting less than a minute. For example, the first scene sets a sad tone with a deep, brooding cello melody hovering above the static flux and the second scene follows with a sparingly played piano chord sounding a little uneasy against the backdrop of dusky noise. Many of the scenes simply seem to evaporate rather than end abruptly while that hazy, noisy sizzle continues . The majority of the segments use piano samples as is the case in scene four which delivers a beautiful melody or scene six in which the piano playing becomes more atonal and scene ten where a sadly echoing melody brings to mind a lounge-like atmosphere . Scene nine, on the other hand, would appear to contain samples of some purposefully strummed, slightly discordant guitar chords.